All the actors you see in our pictures have given consent for their photo to be used. We developed our own accessible consent procedure and Easy Read forms which are completed and signed at every photo shoot.
We spend a lot of time explaining how it all works to make sure everything is understood and decisions are meaningful.
When concerns are raised about capacity to consent, we take extra care to make sure that person understands everything going on before we work with them. For us it’s important not to exclude someone just because it might be more complex. Rather we do our best to involve the person, their family, friends and supporters who know them best. There are four types of situations we get consent for.
Adults with learning disabilities and autistic people
We usually work with small groups and spend time building a relationship with that group, often over months or years. If people are interested in being part of a photo shoot they sign a consent form on the day and receive payment for their work. The method of payment depends on the individual’s benefit or employment circumstances.
Children with learning disabilities
For children and young adults under 18 we get consent from the parent or guardian and agree a payment method with them.
Most of the staff and worker photos are actually volunteers who join in photo shoots as part of their daily work. These are some of the everyday people you see in the photos, like health workers, emergency service workers, teachers and support staff.
Because they are already paid for doing their work we offer lifetime membership to the Photosymbols library. We also make a donation to a charity of their choice.
Professional models and actors
We also work with professional models and actors who are paid standard rates for their time and consent. These actors are involved when we cannot find professional volunteers or when the subject material is more sensitive, for example where nudity is involved in sex and relationships education pictures.
Our photo library was launched in 2003. Between then and now some of the actors have sadly passed away and are no longer with us. As a general rule we do not remove photos of people from the library when they die unless we are asked to by relatives. This is based on the understanding that consent given prior to death is believed to extend beyond death.